Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Playing the Game in Dallas

When it comes to playing games, Dallas is the place to be. Over the years DFW has been known for fashions and sports, but with the influx of toy and game developers the city is being redefined. In fact, gaming has become so popular that even the Dallas Cowboys created their own version of Dominoes and Monopoly. But it's DFW entrepreneurs who are taking the leap into this corporate-dominated industry in a Texas-sized way.
After a year of developing a new game INTIMATE4PLAY®, ( which inspires better communication between couples, I created my company TomKat Productions joining the ranks of many new comers to Texas’ gaming industry. My years broadcasting and love for writing endears me to words and communications, thus INTIMATE4PLAY® is a tasteful invitation for quality conversation. I get a little bit of flack for the name, but don’t let that make you blush. My past dating experiences enlightened me to the fact that I needed to come up with an easier way to really get to know potential love interests. I heard the song Escape by Ruppert Holmes (fondly known as the Piña Colada song). The lyrics explains how after growing tired of a 4 year relationship he decided to place a personal ad seeking someone who liked Piña Colada’s and getting caught in the rain, etc. Ironically, the woman he was presently with responded to his ad; which proved that we can be with someone for a long time, and not know the desires of their heart.
Rolling the dice and making strategic business moves, I’ve had the luxury of meeting a variety of local creators and developers, like myself, right here in the Metroplex. In discovering that we are not alone in our fun-time endeavors, we exposed vast product differences. We cover the board reaching into the boardwalk of arts and society groups with games like TEAGO™, ( the first and only board game totally dedicated to the entertainment, education, and enjoyment of tea time. Creator, Cheryl R. Dunbar says "our trademark expression is it's not just a game, it's a social event!" TEAGO™ has been highlighted in local and national tea trade publications and Dunbar's partnership with the African American Museum has brought her notoriety as a tea specialist.
Although my product fits quite comfortably in the middle of the road, Weaver Games crosses the tracks as it targets a different consumer with its board game Pimps and Ho’s™ ( Like many new companies faced with obstacles, sticking with it has paid off. The game has proven successful after Spencer’s Gifts conducted a nation wide test and has now placed a purchase order to carry the game in all 755 of their stores in the U.S. and Canada. Unlike other board games, this game allows for variety with its options of expansion sets to change the flavor of the game (Strip tease, Truth or Dare, Swingers, and Drinking Versions). that it’s the craziest game ever made. It's crude, it's hilarious, it's extremely vindictive, but all in fun.” Warns
With so much interest in gaming, the University of Texas at Dallas has created a course outline and has developed the UT Dallas Student Game Developers Association. Students benefit from not only how to create games, but meet industry professionals to pitch their products at events sponsored by the group. Events targeting gamers and the toy and game industry are usually hosted in larger cities like Las Vegas and New York, but with our steady growth, major trade shows like the one hosted by Games Manufacturers Association ( or Toy and Game Inventors Forum ( will seek to have Dallas Fort Worth hosts cities for their informative and money making events.
The Dallas-Plano Game Development Meetup Group is one of 137 Meetup groups worldwide. is a website devoted to helping people of like interest come together. The group was founded in 2002 and now have 77 member video game developers who’s goal is to share knowledge and experience from art to game programming to North Dallas.

Overall, the industry predicts national interactive entertainment software retail revenues will have exceeded $11.5 billion in 2004, and the Toy and Game Association’s 2003 study shows games and puzzles at $2.4 billion, learning and exploration at $477 million and outdoor sports and toys also at $2.4 billion in sales.

From concept to completion it’s a lot of work, but like any other business, you have to plan. I’ve definitely learned a lot more about business and even more about dealing with overseas production, intellectual property rights, licensing, copyrights, patents and trademarks. However, a spin of the wheel can sometimes land you on the winning jackpot.

With my game in production in Taiwan, one day I picked a Web-based game company in New Jersey out of my Internet research and decided to call for advice. When Lee answered the phone I was prepared with a sincere pitch to explain my game and ask if he would be interested. He listened and to my surprise, he unloaded valuable information and helpful tips to help me make it in my endeavors. In a strong Jersey accent, he agreed to accept a sample of my game and the day he received it, he called and again shared his take on the game and possible challenges I may face.

Later the next year, I contacted a woman in Sacramento, CA and after speaking with me on the phone for over a half hour, she put me in touch with my first distributor. Now with two distributors and publicity kicking in, I am motivated to grow.

We know everything’s big in Texas, but from the big apple to the golden gate bridge, there are people whose hearts are as big as the lone star state. So in respect to karma, I’m putting out what I want to get back and paying forward a little help to aspiring gamers. Although the industry is huge, it is really a close knit community. And with that, I passed go and collect my $200, thanks to meeting others is the industry who have inspired me.